The use of engineered timber products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) is of increasing interest to architects and designers due to their desirable aesthetic, environmental, and structural properties. A key factor preventing widespread uptake of these materials is the uncertainty regarding their performance in fire. Currently, the predominant approach to quantifying the structural fire resistance of timber elements is the charring rate, which allows estimation of residual cross-section and hence strength. The charring rate is usually determined by testing timber specimens in a furnace by exposure to a ‘standard fire’. However, it is recognized that the resulting charring rates are not necessarily appropriate for non-standard fire exposures or for characterizing the structural response in a real timber building. The effect of heating rate on the charring rate of CLT samples is investigated. The charring rate resulting from three heating scenarios (constant, simulated ‘standard fire’ and quadratically increasing) was calculated using interpolation of in-depth temperature measurements during exposure to heating from a mobile array of radiant panels, or in a Fire Propagation Apparatus (FPA). Charring rate is shown to vary both spatially and temporally, and as a function of heating rate within the range 0.36–0.79 mm/min. The charring rate for tests carried out under simulated ‘standard fire’ exposures were shown to agree with the available literature, thus partially verifying the new testing approach; however under other heating scenarios the Eurocode charring rate guidance was found to be unconservative for some of the heat flux exposures in this study. A novel charring rate model is presented based on the experimental results. The potential implications of this study for structural fire resistance analysis and design of timber structures are discussed. The analysis demonstrates that heating rate, sample size and orientation, and test setup have significant effects on charring rate and the overall pyrolysis, and thus need to be further evaluated to further facilitate the use of structural timber in design.
A large-scale fire test was conducted on a compartment constructed from cross laminated timber (CLT). The internal faces of the compartment were lined with non-combustible board, with the exception of one wall and the ceiling where the CLT was exposed directly to the fire inside the compartment. Extinction of the fire occurred without intervention. During the fire test, measurements were made of incident radiant heat flux, gas phase temperature, and in-depth temperature in the CLT. In addition, gas flow velocities and gas phase temperatures at the opening were measured, as well as incident heat fluxes at the facade due to flames and the plume leaving the opening. The fuel load was chosen to be sufficient to attain flashover, to achieve steadystate burning conditions of the exposed CLT, but to minimize the probability of uncertain behaviors induced by the specific characteristics of the CLT. Ventilation conditions were chosen to approximate maximum temperatures within a compartment. Wood cribs were used as fuel and, following decay of the cribs, selfextinction of the exposed CLT rapidly occurred. In parallel with the large-scale test, a small scale study focusing on CLT self-extinction was conducted. This study was used: to establish the range of incident heat fluxes for which self-extinction of the CLT can occur; the duration of exposure after which steady-state burning occurred; and the duration of exposure at which debonding of the CLT could occur. The large-scale test is described, and the results from both the small and large-scale tests are compared. It is found that selfextinction occurred in the large-scale compartment within the range of critical heat fluxes obtained from the small scale tests.